Monday 27 July 2015

Tree hugging, afternoon tea and twice baked butternut squash

Playing in these gardens again thanks to Hannah having an unexpected free weekend and time to visit. I know there are too many flower photos...but I can't help myself.  The colours were amazing. Some blossoms looked as though they were washed with Day-Glo paints. A bit too bright for me. It's  all the subtle dusty powdery pom poms...and the feathery PINK GRASSES that I love...Oh and the kitchen gardens and tea on the verandah...

...and another thing I love, is when instead of your daughter phoning to ask for recipe ideas, that you phone your daughter asking her for them...Not that I object to the calls and questions (I love them) but it's so nice that I can do the same too...The worm has turned. This is Hannah's twice baked butternut squash recipe :  (requested by the lovely Emily)

Ingredients for two people, or one extremely hungry one:
  • One medium sized butternut squash 
  • A little coconut oil or alternative
  • Garlic cloves...the more the merrier...two or three cloves in each half are perfect
  • Sea salt and crushed black pepper
  • A fresh chilli or dried crushed chilli flakes
  • A couple of spring onions (scallions)
  • Fresh coriander or any other herb/s of choice or whatever's growing.
Filling ideas:
  • Hannah's favourite filling is a combination of grated carrots, diced mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and finely sliced spring onions plus salty feta or cheddar cheese. 
  • Seasonal vegetables. This works well with sautéed leeks , caramelised red onions or baby spinach leaves. 
  • Mediterranean roasted vegetables work well too eg tomatoes and sweet peppers(capsicums). It's a great way to use up any left over roasted vegetables, quinoa, couscous or any other tasty ingredients that you have hiding in the fridge. 
  • a little more coconut or olive oil, seasoning and garlic. 

  • Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 220c/425f/g7 (fan 200c)
  2. Halve the butternut squash and remove the seeds and any fibrous bits and put to one side.  (You may like to plant the seeds in your garden. I did and now have little butternut squash plants in the vegetable patch that will hopefully produce homegrown squash...)
  3. Place the squash in an ovenproof dish.
  4. Score the flesh diagonaly. Turn and do the same in the opposite direction making criss-crosses. 
  5. Spoon a little of the oil and seasoning over chopped chives or spring onions, rubbing in well to ensure that the flavour penetrates into the flesh. 
  6. Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes or so depending on the size until the flesh is tender. You can test by inserting a knife. 
  7. If like Hannah, you want to use fresh and not cooked vegetables for the second baking, either grate or finely chop or shred them so that they will cook in the time it takes to heat the squash up again.
  8. Whilst the squash is cooking prepare the ingredients for the filling. You may like to roast vegetables in a separate dish at the same time, seasoned well and drizzled with a little oil. 
  9. Alternatively slice the onions finely and caramelise  or cook spinach etc in a saucepan on the hob. 
  10. Once the squash is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool a little. Score inside the flesh about a centimetre from the edge so that it doesn't break up. Scoop out the flesh and place in a bowl. 
  11. Mix with the other cooked ingredients. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  12. Fill the centre with the mixture.
  13. If using topping of breadcrumbs/herbs or cheese, crumble this over the top. Return the dish to the oven and cook for a further twenty minutes or so until heated through again and the topping is golden brown. 
Hannah likes to serve these with strips of chicken breast that she marinates in lemon zest, chilli, garlic, spring onion and yoghurt, whilst the squash is cooking for the first time. She panfries these whilst the squash is baking for the second time or it's nice just with a fresh leaf dressing with your favourite dressing. 

If you can't have afternoon tea on the garden terrace at Hergest Croft it's just as good at home, here are some of my favourite bakes:

What's your favourite bake when you manage a sneaky  afternoon tea or coffee?


  1. Your daughter is so pretty Debby and the recipe...I can't wait to prepare it when it cools down a little here and I can turn my oven back on.
    I adore seeing all the photos of the flowers, they are quite lovely.
    Oh, and now that I've seen your photo I want cake! So much for my long walk this morning. ;)

    1. Oh thank you Tracey. I think so too, but I'm very biased. It is kind of an autumnal dish but after on of the days in Spring being the hottest in years the summer has been quite cool so suppers like this one bring a bit of sunshine into the kitchen.
      We were spoilt for choice when we had afternoon tea and so decided to choose three different things and share. It was a moist dark carrot cake that was the winner, I wish I had that recipe...
      Take care,

  2. OK, now I am envious! What beautiful gardens, and a lovely daughter to share them with, to boot! Sons are wonderful, but they don't understand exploring gardens.

    That recipe looks awesome. Hopefully we'll get some squashes this year so I can try it. They are just in the blossoming stage. It's always a race to see if they will fruit before we get frost.

    I suppose I'll have to settle for baking those treats, as sadly, we do not have any tea rooms in the area. More of a diners and drive-in type of place. My favorite tea time treat is a cake called Spanish Bar Cake, don't know what's Spanish about it, but it's good.

    Looking forward to your next post! I'm living vicariously through them! (Easier on the pocketbook.)


    1. Hi Jane, we all love gardens and even got season tickets for this one. It's only opened for a few months a year but we can go any time 365 days of the year. It's just a five or six minute drive away so we can go at sunset or sunrise if we like. I can't wait to go around Christmas time. It would look wonderful under snow...if we get any.

      We are blessing with lots of tea rooms and coffee shops as we are in the middle of walking country. It's a farming county with lots of orchards and historical houses. So all the cyclists and walkers are well catered for and we benefit too. It's lovely to have afternoon tea at home though, I'm sure that your favourite cake goes down well.

      Blog reading is a comfy way to travel...armchair and cup of tea travelling...that's the way I'm doing most of mine at the moment.

      Bye for now,

  3. Beautiful pictures - and some fun ones in the mix! I'm not much of a tea person, but give me a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk and I'm in heaven. Or a cold unsweetened ice tea will do in a pinch. ;^) What a lovely way to spend time with your daughter.

    1. Thank you Becki. Cookie and milk sounds good. Yes we had a great day.
      Hope yours is good too,

  4. love that you spent time with hannah and she has some recipes that you want, I haven't bridged that yet...but soon! I am recovering from the wedding weekend and playing catch up on the blog.

    1. It was awesome...we always have fun. Glad all went ok and you breathe and relax a bit now.

  5. I love all the photos....I sort of feel like I'm standing right next to you as you wander the gardens!! And this one was a beauty!!! Can't believe you are only 5 minutes away from it.....I'd be there all the time for inspiration! :) Thanks for sharing the recipes. At the moment, I'm feeling way too hot to make anything in my kitchen.... :(

    1. Thanks Steph it's a gorgeous garden and we are lucky that we get there so easily. I know the kitchen doesn't have quite the same attraction in the summer and we don't get anything like the heat that you have.
      Hope the weather adjusts to just the right temperature for you.

  6. Oh, Debby, I am so excited that you posted Hannah's recipe for twice baked squash! I cannot wait to try it. I hope my butternut squash grows and produces lots of squash because Hannah's recipe is one I'm sure we will all love.
    That must be Hannah's beautiful red hair piled on her's uncanny how that photo could be the back of my eldest daughter's head. She wears her hair like that, and it's the same color. So pretty.
    Never too many pictures of flowers. I thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. What beautiful gardens! Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Hi Emily,
      Good to hear from you. It is Hannah's hair...what a coincidence about our daughters. Good luck with the squash plants...I planted some seeds from one that we ate a month or so ago and have little plants I hope they fruit too.
      Take care,